Solar Thermal awareness programme

Boiler Bee – We Fix Solar

We have just launched an new programme to make people aware of the need to maintain their solar thermal water heating systems.

As we approach summer (again) these panels come into their own and have the potential to provide all of your hot water so long as we have a few hours of sun and as long as the system is working efficiently.

We have recently serviced two systems in Wideopen and Heddon-on-the-Wall in order to remove air blockages that made temperatures on the roof soar to 145°c. This valuable heat wasn’t making its way to the hot water cylinder because of air locks in the pipework.

Pumping station in Heddon-on-the-Wall with flushing pump attacked

In this situation we attached our pumping station and flushed the air out of the system and repressurised it so that it would operate at 100%.

At another job in Wideopen the temperatures had also reached 140°c + and had started to convert the glycol thermodynamic fluid in to vapour at the same temperature. This is quite hazardous as it can easily scald the unsuspecting customer.

High temperature vapour being let out of a safety valve

Once again this system was flushed with glycol and repressurised and is now working well.

The solar panels are connected to the pumping station which is then connected to the hot water cylinder. This is an “unvented“ cylinder which runs at high pressure and itself needs to be maintained to ensure its working properly and safely.

We are fully trained and qualified at Boiler Bee to service and maintain solar and unvented cylinders so if you feel you’re not getting the benefit of the sun (!) then please call us, we fix solar!

The customer, Dr D, commented, “The work was speedily delivered, 100% effective and of a high standard, excellent work, an enthusiastic response to new challenges was noted”.

New Viessmann “Weather Comp” boiler fitted

If you’ve read this blog before you will know I’m a big believer in Weather Compensation. The new Boiler Plus regulations require fitters to offer one of 4 energy saving add-ons to boilers. Weather Compensation (WC), Load Compensation, Smart Controls (such as Nest) and Flue Gas heat recovery.

We have always favoured Weather Compensation because it offers the biggest efficiency gain and is the most simplistic technology to integrate.

What is Weather Compensation

Weather compensation is a system where the boiler calculates the heat required to keep the house warm and comfortable at any given outside temperature. Once set up the boiler will automatically adjust the flow temperature of hot water to the radiators in line with the outside temperature.

See the source imageIn the diagram opposite the graph shows the Flow Temperature produced by the boiler in relation to the outside temperature in England and Europe. You will see that for this house, an outside temperature of 10ͦ°c relates to a flow temperature of approx. 45ͦ°c in England and 35ͦ°C in Europe. There is a difference in the countries because the European homes are better insulated than English homes.

The beauty of this system is that it needs no management. The boiler does all the sensing and calculating of the required temperatures; all the customer sees is a very comfortable home.

We fitted a new Viessmann 100W combi boiler to a customer’s property in North Shields last week. 2020-03-31 10.26.26The customer had been having regular problems with the existing system which was a Gledhill open vented heat store and an Ideal heat only boiler. This was a poor and over complicated system installed 15 years ago. The old cylinder and boiler were taken out and the new combi fitted (see opposite).

On our follow up visit a few days later we asked the customer how the boiler was doing. She replied that she had noticed it coming on because it hadn’t been very cold. 

In fact the temperature outside had dropped to 3°c in the past week but the customer had not noticed any stress on the system because the Weather Compensation had been gradually increasing (and decreasing) the circulating water to keep the home comfortable.

With the new boiler working much better than the last old unit, a peace of mind 10 year parts and labour warranty from Viessmann and a “Which” awarded highly efficient boiler the customer wrote, “The service provided by Boiler Bee is excellent. I’ll definitely use this company again”. We look forward to being of service for many years to come.


New rads for NHS docs

We were delighted to win a job to fit 6 new radiators to clients in Gosforth. Both Chad and Rebecca are doctors working in a local hospital and working long hours under the current virus situation.

We were able to supply and fit the radiators while Rebecca was in bed after night shift and Chad was at work. Their existing rads were in very poor conditioning, giving out little heat and leaking – a worry they just didn’t need to this stressful time.

We are happy to help people who have dire need whether it be a lack of heat or boiler failure. We are taking great precautions by washing down surfaces and washing out hands so keep ourselves virus free from start to finish.

Anyone needing our services should call first for telephone help which we are happy to give free of charge; I helped one customer to plumb in his washing machine via video link earlier this week – so please feel free to call – we really can help.

Our customer wrote on checkatrade: We had all the radiators in our house replaced by Richard and his team. They were outstanding from the start with a very professional. Richard went above and beyond when it came to the job as he actually had to go to the factory to pick up supplies which was outstanding as he could easily have just cancelled. Our heating is working a treat and the house is toasty warm! Thank you so much for the brilliant work you did. 100% recommend Boilder Bee for all your plumbing issues! 10/10

07771523397, call, text, video.

Electrical problem with under floor heating

IMG_1953-LargeWe were called to a large property in Jesmond to look at the underfloor heating which was proving unreliable. After a brief discussion with the customers and a look at the control of the underfloor circuits it appeared that the system had not been set up correctly when it was installed 5 years ago.

Calling for heat

When any system is switched on it must “Call for heat” from the boiler and this is done by switching the boiler on via the “Switched Live” connection. We found that the underfloor heating system had not been wired to the boiler so even though there was as “call for heat” from the wireless room stats the system would never start up because it wasn’t connected to the boiler.

Wiring remedy

Visio-Wiring diagramIt would seem to be a simple fix to run a wire from the underfloor heating controller to the  boiler’s wiring centre but that’s where the problems started. The wire was passed through a thick brick pillar and then behind some kitchen units until it reached the boiler cupboard. This was then wired into the boiler as per the wiring diagram below. You will notice that the Honeywell wiring centre and the Myson wiring centre are wired through separate fused spurs and that there are two routed back to the mains RCD. Unfortunately the RCD is designed to detect imbalance in an electrical system and as such would find a fault when one of the wiring centres was switched on. The RCD would trip the circuits after it detected the imbalance as if the current had gone through a person. The only remedy was to rewire the house’s circuits so that everything went through on cable and one fused spur. The diagram below shows how it was rewired.

Visio-Wiring diagram V2

We suspected that the reason why the link wasn’t made with the boiler in the first place was because of the RCD imbalance problem. The customers were delight to have full control of the heating for the first time.

Worcester Bosch update

I was delighted to be invited to the Worcester Bosch IMG_6630product briefing this morning. Worcester have always been one of the companies leading the way in developing high quality heating products and after they launched the new 8000 and 2000 series it was an excellent opportunity to learn about the new features they have designed into their domestic boiler range.

On show this morning was the all new Worcester Bosch 8000 “Style” boiler. This is a really advanced boiler which has been designed to help the customer manage their heating in a very user friendly, interactive way. On the front of the boiler is a colour screen with a very simple menu system which allows the customer to check on a multitude of parameter allowing them to maximise efficiency and minimise the maintenance cost. For example, the boiler has an auto filling mechanism which can be programmed to top up the boiler if any system pressure is lost. It also advises the customer of it doing so thus giving the customer time to book an engineer Bee3-cleaner.gifto have the boiler serviced.

The 2000 boiler is a new boiler to the market with all of the trademark robust features of the bigger siblings. This boiler comes in at the entry level and so is very competitively priced to compete with the likes of Baxi and Alpha. It has some great features like a built in wireless room stat controller which offers “load compensation” thus making it compliant with the new Boiler Plus legistation. The boiler is light and small making it easy to fit and has plenty of room inside to allow for easy maintenance with out slicing your knuckles off!!

More information can be found at Worcester’s website at:-




How we do flues

We were called out one evening last week to help get a boiler working and found that the flue had not been correctly installed and was dangerous. We explained the risks to the client and placed a Warning Notice on the appliance to determine the boiler as Unsafe*.

*(If the flue had come undone it would have filled the garage with flue gases which would then have been taken in by the boiler and this would have created carbon monoxide, this would then have killed everyone in the house.)

We came back the next day to make the flue secure and as you can see from the enclosed photograph there was some structural work to be done to secure the flue in place. The two brackets round the flue pipe were not there in the past meaning that the flue was happly to swing and sway around as it wished.

The flue is now perfectly secure and ready to take all the flue gases the boiler can throw at it. PS. We fixed the fault too, which was a failed expansion vessel and low water pressure.


Condemned LPG boiler

Derek and I were called to ask if we could give a price to replace a 30KW LPG system boiler. We were curious as to why the whole boiler needed replacing and asked what the problems were. We were told that the boiler kept loosing pressure and an engineer had taken a look at it and said it had multiple leaks and would be better to replace it rather than start fixing it.

We went out to look and found a deflated expansion vessel which accounted for the loosing pressure. We also found that the pressure relief pipe work had not been configured correctly.

The pressure relief pipes should be connected to a tundish.

As well as the problems with pipework the hot water expansion vessel was poorly attached to the wall, full of water and in danger of falling off the wall and causing a flood.

This will need to be fixed too. Finally the Vaillant EcoTec is prone for degrading its hydraulic pipes inside the boiler and so we recommended that these are replaced.

We were contracted to repair the boiler and set about refitting the expansion vessel onto a solid backing.

The next task was to inspect and clean out the cold water pressure reducing valve as this can effect cold water flow and pressure. The cold water is isolated and the valve drained so that it can be opened up for inspection, it needed only a light clean.

Once the cold water system is sorted we moved onto the internals of the boiler. Once the hydraulic pipes were removed we could see the amount of debris inside the pipes.

The pipes are replaced with newly developed pipes by Vaillant which have done away with the rubber hoses which degrade inside. The final stage is to inspect the combustion chamber and clean out any debris, as per the rest of the boiler, this wasn’t in great condition either. It was cleaned out and a new burned seal installed once it was clean.

The boiler was reassembled and repressurised with cold water. The boiler was set to chimney sweep mode to commission the new parts and new parts and ensure there are no leaks. The new pressure relief pipework was also tested. We also secured the pipework with proper clips onto ply board glued to the plasterboard wall.

The boiler now works perfectly.

Our client, Sean, commented on Checkatrade (

Repair of boiler plus additional work

Problem boilers at Durham school

We were called out to look at a problem with a school heating system last week. One of three boilers was continually cutting out and needed investigating before the schools came back of half term.


UTS Durham Plant room

The fault was reported by the boiler as an E36 fault which relates to a combustion issue and could be to do with gas pressure, the gas valve, the combustion process or the flue. After testing the gas pressure the main heat exchanger was inspected for blockage, this is done by cleaning out the small gaps between the elements as the video shows:


Having given the heat exchanger a good clean out the next step was to set up the gas valve to give out the right level of CO2 which is an indicator of the gas burning efficiency. Once this was set up we then had a level playing field so any faults with the boiler could now be attributed to other parts of the boiler such as the circuit board.

This was the next port of call; to test the voltages out from the circuit board to determine of the correct signals were going to various parts and sensors. It was found that the voltage to the flame detection system was only 36 volts instead of 240v and so this was determined to be the problem.

I swapped the circuit board from one boiler to the other and the E36 fault followed the circuit board confirming that the circuit board was at fault.

A new circuit board was ordered and this will be fitted next week.

Do I need a plumber or a heating engineer?

If your boiler breaks down, should you call a plumber or a heating engineer?

There can be some confusion when it comes to the difference between a plumber and a heating engineer as, on the surface, the two roles seem quite similar.

Your boiler uses a lot of water pipes, so should you call a plumber to repair your boiler? The short answer is no.

Gas Safe Register

A boiler repair or service involves working with gas, so only a Gas Safe registered engineer can legally work on a gas boiler. The gas industry is highly regulated to ensure that relevant services are provided to the highest safety standards, so if your repair is pertaining to a boiler or other gas appliance, you must make sure that you contact a Gas Safe engineer.

Gas Safe register website

You can check whether a company or engineer is qualified to work with gas on the Gas Safe Register.


VHL plumbing a sink

While many plumbers do possess a number of plumbing qualifications, they are not essential in order to trade as a plumber, meaning that anyone can refer to themselves as a plumber without any formal certifications. Although they may be highly experienced in the full range of plumbing such as leaky pipes, dripping taps and dishwasher installation, plumbers are not necessarily qualified to work on a gas boiler.

Some plumbers are also Gas Safe registered, however, but this should not be expected as standard. If you find a plumber who is also offering gas central heating services, check the Gas Safe Register to make sure that they are legally permitted to work with gas.

Heating Engineers

VHL heating engineer

A heating engineer will work solely on heating in domestic and commercial properties rather than working across the broader industry, making them specialists in heating. For this reason, you may prefer to contact a heating engineer rather than a plumber, as they may be more familiar with your issue.

You should still ensure that your heating engineer is Gas Safe registered before allowing them to work on your boiler.

Bee3-cleaner.jpgAt Boiler Bee we are plumbers and heating engineers which I call a Mechanical Engineer just to add another term into the mix! In essence we are qualified¤ and experienced in dealing will all mechanical, water and gas issues that you may find in a residential and commercial property.


¤ Qualifications come in many different forms – if someone has years of experience in completing a trade they are deemed to be qualified, likewise if someone has a formal industry qualification they are also qualified. I qualified as a time served fitter at Swan Humters ship builders in 1985. From then I have increased my qualifications and experience via University degrees, formal training such as Gas Safety and specific training in manufacturers’ products such as Worcester boilers. The proof of the pudding of course is whether you do a good job – I guarantee my workmanship for life.

How we do pipework

This was a tricky little number for Derek today. The customer had bought replacement radiators that almost fitted the pipework. To prevent the walls being hacked apart and then the need for filling and repainting we fabricated a neat little copper pipe and shortened the plastic pipe coming out of the wall.

The bent copper pipe means that the seals inside the fittings are not under stress, thereby ensuring it won’t leak in the future.

We think it’s quite a tidy job 😀